Brain injury support group marks 15 years in Limerick

Brain injury survivors past and present celebrated the 15-year anniversary with staff at Acquired Brain Injury IrelandÕs Limerick service. Front row (from left): Sinead Mangan, Halina Downes, John Tom OÕConnor and Leanna Burke. Back row: Helen Brouder, Karen Fox, Brian OÕDonoghue, Robert Fox, Marguerite Quinn, Sarah Millar, Richard Fitzgerald and Denis Cusack.

NATIONAL brain injury rehabilitation charity, Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, is celebrating 15 years of operation in Limerick.

Since opening its doors, the Limerick service has supported 14 people through residential neuro-rehabilitation, and the community service supports 50 brain injury survivors at any given time.

It was one of the early flagship locations for Acquired Brain Injury Ireland’s unique neuro-residential homes when it opened in 2003.

The service later expanded to provide rehabilitation in the community delivering one-to-one support to help brain injury survivors achieve their goals at home.

Local services manager Alan O’Connell, who has worked with the organisation for more than a decade, remembers the first time one of his residents achieved their goals to move out and live independently.

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Acquired Brain Injury Limerick manager Alan O’Connell

Mr O’Connell said: “It’s hard to describe the feeling of pride and reward that comes when a resident reaches their goals to progress to the next stage of moving back home. As we celebrate our 15-year anniversary ahead of Christmas, it’s a lovely time to take stock and remember those incredibly special moments.

“A particular memory for me was in 2008 when one of the original residents was the first to move out to independent living. Ultimately our goal is to rebuild lives so that our residents need us less and less until they no longer need us at all. It is just brilliant to see how this man went from intensive neuro-rehabilitation 24/7 in our Limerick house down to a visit once a week from our community rehabilitation assistant.

“He has come full circle after his brain injury caused by a car crash from being unable to prepare his meals, manage his medication and deal with social situations. Now he maintains his apartment, cooks for himself, has completed training courses and is looking for work,” Mr O’Connell explained.

According to the national brain injury charity, as many as 19,500 brain injuries happen in Ireland every year from causes including stroke, road traffic accidents, falls and assaults.

That’s 53 people every day acquiring a brain injury that can affect their lives and those of their family for months and years after the initial injury.

Barbara O’Connell, chief executive with Acquired Brain Injury Ireland said: “Brain injury is a hidden phenomenon in Irish society. Nobody ever thinks it will happen to them. After brain injury, many people experience problems with memory, fatigue, judgement and they need support to help them relearn everyday activities.”

“Our Limerick service has been at the heart of rebuilding lives in the Mid West of the country. We give people their lives back. This week we are delighted to celebrate our 15-year anniversary in Limerick to mark the incredible journeys of our brain injury survivors and the tireless dedication of our staff.

“Neuro-rehabilitation takes time. It requires the ability to see things differently and think outside the box. Every day Alan and his highly skilled team bring their passion to brain injury survivors in Limerick and that what makes the difference,” she concluded.

by Kathy Masterson

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